Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff

Political candidates are often asked to take pledges to win votes. In the U.S., many candidates pledge to never raise taxes or to safeguard reproductive rights for women.

In Brazil, our front-line partner organization has been asking politicians to promise that they’ll fight modern-day slavery. For Dilma Rousseff, taking the pledge was a winning commitment.

Rousseff will be sworn-in to a second term as president on New Year’s Day, leading the Workers’ Party to its fourth consecutive term and underscoring the desire of Brazilians for a political agenda that focuses on social programs for the poor.

Brazilians went to the polls in October to choose their candidates for president and vice president – as well as for governorships and federal and state offices. Voting is mandatory in Brazil, a country with 180 million people. Taking advantage of a large voting population, Repórter Brasil has sought to raise awareness of modern-day slavery by making the issue of combatting slave labor a mandatory part of all political campaigns and official political agendas.

For the past four election cycles, Repórter Brasil has collaborated with the National Commission for the Eradication of Slave Labor to write the “Protocol Against Slave Labor.” The purpose is to urge political candidates to make anti-slave labor initiatives a priority once elected. The protocol is meant to serve as a tool for the media, civil society, and ordinary citizens to monitor the degree to which elected officials incorporate slave labor eradication into public policy after they are elected.

Some of the expectations laid out by the protocol include:

  • The candidate will resign if there is evidence of involvement in employing slave labor. All politically appointed advisors will be fired if there is evidence of involvement in slave labor.
  • There will be further implementation of actions established by Plans for the Eradication of Slave Labor at the federal, state, and municipal levels. Recently, Brazil’s Congress approved a constitutional amendment that allows authorities to confiscate land in rural and urban areas where slave labor is found to take place.
  • Candidates will stand by the current legal definition of modern slave labor, which has received considerable praise from the U.N. Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. Brazil has embraced one of the most advanced legal definitions of modern slave labor, which goes beyond what is enshrined in several international treaties by incorporating degrading labor conditions and long hours of work.
  • Candidates will not promote businesses that use slave labor or child labor inside and outside Brazil.
  • Candidates will provide protection to human rights defenders and activists working to combat slave labor.
  • Candidates will allocate financial resources and political support to official investigation teams. Brazil has created “Mobile Units” that work with labor inspectors to investigate slave labor complaints in remote areas of the country.
  • Candidates will promote the implementation of policies that support the social and economic rehabilitation of rescued workers and provide basic education and job training skills.
  • Candidates will continue to support the “Dirty List,” a registry of businesses found to employ slave labor.

This year, 12 candidates signed the protocol, including President Rousseff. Her opponent, Aecio Neves, did not.

Repórter Brasil will closely monitor the candidates after they take office to ensure they remain committed to their pledge.

Learn more about Repórter Brasil and the FTS anti-slavery program in Brazil on our Brazil webpage. Watch police liberate slaves and hear reflections from the woman who helped create Brazil’s groundbreaking anti-slavery program on our Viemo page.



Fighting Slavery on the Radio

Challenging Heights on the air in Ghana

Challenging Heights on the air in Ghana

How do you reach thousands of Ghanaian families to spread the word that child slavery is wrong and must be stopped? Get on the radio!

That’s what our front-line partner group, Challenging Heights, has just begun to do. They’re broadcasting a live weekly program called Mbofra Banbo, which means “Child Protection.”

“The program provides as a new form of community sensitization that has the ability to reach a larger number of people at one time,” Challenging Heights founder and child slavery survivor James Kofi Annan writes in his blog. “It is designed to advocate for the rights of children while also providing protection resources to ensure their safety.”

Thousands of children are enslaved on fishing boats and in fishing villages in Ghana’s Lake Volta region. Challenging Heights rescues kids, rehabilitates them in a shelter, and then enrolls them in school so that they’ll be less vulnerable to trafficking in the future.

“We not only want to create awareness but be able to provide many perspectives including hearing from survivors of child trafficking and hazardous forced labor as well as from experienced community members,” James writes. “We want to discuss, debate, have student performances, provide information, and get the community engaged and excited.”

Learn more about Challenging Heights and the FTS Ghana program on our Ghana webpage – and watch a FTS mini-documentary of a child slavery rescue on Lake Volta.

Free the Slaves has a challenge for you during this holiday season, a unique opportunity to create a chain of giving that reaches across the globe: Give a Gift, Get a Gift.

Make a donation to Free the Slaves today, and ask a friend to donate too. Together you will help us open the lock for thousands trapped in slavery.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose one of this year’s Free the Slaves Holiday Season Freedom E-Cards. Pick the card you like best, and choose a donation amount that is meaningful to you. Tell us who should receive the e-card and on what date.
  2. Then, ask a friend, neighbor, relative or colleague to send an e-card to someone else by forwarding this email. Make freedom viral.

 Free the Slaves Holiday Season

Freedom E-Cards


Create a chain of freedom. Send a Free the Slaves Freedom E-Card to a friend, neighbor, relative or colleague. Then ask someone else to send an e-card too.


The gift you give will protect children, families, and entire communities from being enslaved. And you can make it go twice as far by challenging someone else to do the same.

Free the Slaves can help people break free and stay free only with the ongoing support of thousands of donors like you. Your contributions help us rescue people from bondage, educate children to reduce their vulnerability to trafficking, and slavery-proof entire communities.

We can conquer slavery, if we all act together.

Dance Troupe Helps Free Slaves

dancing for a difference visits fts

Sowji Kilaru, president of Dancing For A Difference, meets FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg | Photo: FTS/FitzPatrick

Sowji Kilaru dropped by the Free the Slaves office recently to drop off a remarkable donation. She’s president of an organization to harness the creative potential of New Yorkers to make a difference in the world. We asked Sowji to tell us about her group:

“We created Dancing  For A Difference with two different goals in mind. The first was to establish an organization that was dedicated to raising awareness and money for important social issues impacting the South Asian Community. We found that in our communities, people are often reluctant to talk about the difficult things: illness, poverty, abuse – all of which are affecting millions of South Asians around the world every day. And we wanted to shed light on these difficult topics by sharing one of the most beautiful parts of our culture – dance.

“Our vision is to create an outlet for people to express themselves and foster a community of dancers, performers, and activists who use the arts to heal both themselves and the world. We raise awareness and funds via dance classes, choreography and shows. Our first show in New York City was held on November 1st at the Helen Mills Theater. In addition to a sold-out show, donors from around the world poured in their support for our cause. The show consisted of dance groups and artists from all around the New York area, including our own Dancing For A Difference Group. Thanks to all our supporters and performers we raised approximately $7,000 and we were able to present Free the Slaves a donation of $1,000. We hope to collaborate with one another on future programs!”

Thanks to Sowji and everyone involved with Dancing For A Difference for choosing to support the work of Free the Slaves.

New Congo Director Joins FTS team

crispin headshot 2014

Crispin Baderha

Free the Slaves is pleased to announce that Crispin Baderha is our new country director in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He’s already at work in Goma, leading our program to confront labor and sex slavery in mining communities, as well as forced marriage slavery in families.

Crispin brings a wealth of experience in international development and human rights work to FTS. He says our model for strengthening communities to fight slavery attracted him to the job.

“I visited the FTS website and found close links between community development, human rights and slavery,” he says. “The community approach to address the root causes of problems that undermine people’s development is what attracted me.”

Crispin holds a degree in applied pedagogy from the Teacher Training College in Bukavu. He worked a teacher and language consultant before joining World Vision to work on humanitarian projects. He’s also worked with the Eastern Congo Initiative to strengthen the operations of nonprofit and community groups. Crispin knows firsthand the social, economic and political landscape of the Great Lakes region, and their effect on community development. He has worked with private foundations, individual philanthropists, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Canadian International Development Agency, and European governmental donors.

As FTS country director, Crispin will lead our in-country Congo team to provide support and technical assistance to our front-line partner organizations in the North and South Kivu provinces.

Please join us in welcoming Crispin to our team!

Read more about slavery in the Congo and our program to combat it on our Congo webpage.